False Neon Disease (Nocardia): A Quick Guide

false neon disease

False Neon disease in tetra fish is caused by bacteria. Below is a quick overview of the fish disease.

What is false Neon disease?

False neon disease (Nocardia) is caused by a bacterium of the genus Nocardia .

It’s very difficult to distinguish the false neon disease from the (real) neon disease.

In contrast to (real) neon disease, which is incurable, false neon disease can be treated with antibiotics in the early stages.

Bacteria of the genus Nocardia are found worldwide. They are mainly found in wet habitats and in most aquariums, as this offer a predestined environment for them.

Research has shown that the mere presence of these bacteria (nocardia) does not usually lead to disease in healthy fish. However, as soon as the keeping conditions (water, food, etc.) are not right or the fish have a weakened immune system, this disease can break out.

Potential victims of the false neon disease are neon tetra ( Paracheirodon innesi , Paracheirodon simulans ) including red neon (this is not affected by the “real” neon disease).

False Neon Disease

False Neon Disease Causes

The cause is a (rod-shaped, gram-positive) bacterium of the genus Nocardia . These bacteria are mainly found in humid habitats around the world. However, the mere presence of these bacteria does not usually lead to disease in healthy fish.

The bacterium Nocardia thrives in wet areas or in moist soil. As a result, your aquarium is the perfect habitat for Nocardia.

However, research has shown that the mere presence of the pathogen cannot cause any damage to your fish population. However, this set of facts can change very quickly.

Poor aquarium conditions such as the wrong water values and a weakened immune system opens all gates for pathogens.

The Nocardia are rod-shaped and thrive particularly well at a water temperature of 30 ° C and more.

Other reasons for the outbreak of a false neon disease are manifold such as

  • infected wild-caught fish
  • problems with imported fish
  • too many fish in too little space
  • wrong and inappropriate nutrition
  • inadequate water conditions
  • stress
  • poor hygiene in the tank

False Neon Disease Symptoms

In the case of false neon disease:

  • The red color regions of the affected fish gradually dissolve
  • The swimming behavior of the fish also changes: the fish swim “obliquely” or almost vertically, with the red neon pointing its head extremely downwards (top-heavy)
  • The remaining neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi , Paracheirodon simulans ) their tail extremely downwards (tail-heavy) judge.
  • In the final stages of the disease, the gills become infected and the fish literally suffocate

Fish at this stage should be removed from the aquarium IMMEDIATELY and killed.

false neon disease

False Neon Disease Preventive measures

  • correct water values, regular partial water changes, sufficiently large pool
  • the stocking density should be low, and new arrivals should first be observed in a quarantine tank
  • slowly accustom new fish to the new water
  • good water filtration and ventilation
  • species-appropriate, varied diet for the fish
  • Avoid stress for the fish
  • Use UV-C water clarifier
  • Infested fish should be removed from the aquarium IMMEDIATELY and isolated

False Neon Disease Chemical treatment options

In contrast to the “real” neon disease, there is definitely a chance of a cure with the “false” neon disease. 

Antibiotics and salfomanides can help reduce fish disease. 

However, the duration of the infection is of crucial relevance. Fish in which the disease is already well advanced no longer respond to the treatment. 

Alternatively, you can also remove and destroy the infected fish, change the water and seriously optimize the keeping conditions. 

You should also consider using UV-C water clarifiers which have demonstrated successes against the false neon disease. This will reduce the number of your fish stocks, but it will reduce the possibility of further infections and further deaths many times over.

IMPORTANT: As mentioned above, increasing the temperature is NOT advisable for this disease! In the case of many fish diseases, a rise in temperature can promote and accelerate the healing process, but the opposite is the case with neon disease.

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